James M. Landis
5th Dean of Harvard Law School
In office
Preceded byRoscoe Pound
Succeeded byErwin Griswold
2nd Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
In office
September 23, 1935 – September 15, 1937
PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded byJoseph P. Kennedy
Succeeded byWilliam O. Douglas
Personal details
Born(1899-09-25)September 25, 1899
Tokyo, Japan
DiedJuly 30, 1964(1964-07-30) (aged 64)
Harrison, New York, U.S.
EducationPrinceton University (AB)
Harvard University (LLB)

James McCauley Landis (September 25, 1899 – July 30, 1964) was an American government official and legal adviser. He served as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1935 to 1937.


Landis was born in Tokyo, Japan, where his parents were teachers at a missionary school. After completing his studies at Mercersburg Academy in 1916, he graduated from Princeton University and in 1924 received a LL.B. from Harvard Law School, where he was a student of Felix Frankfurter. In 1925, Landis was a law clerk to Justice Louis Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court. He then became a professor at Harvard Law School, until called into government service during the New Deal.

Landis served as a member of the Federal Trade Commission (1933–1934), as a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1934–1937), and as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1935–1937). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1938 and the American Philosophical Society in 1942.[1][2] While dean of the Harvard Law School from 1937 to 1946, Landis served as regional director of the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense (1941–1942) and then as its national director (1942–1943). He was removed from his position of dean following an affair he had with a secretary.[3] President Franklin D. Roosevelt then sent him to Egypt as American Director of Economic Operations in the Middle East (1943–1945). In 1946, Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman, later appointed him chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, a position he served until the next year. A friend of the Kennedy family for years, he served as a legal advisor to Joseph P. Kennedy and as Special Counsel to President John F. Kennedy. In 1960 he drafted the Landis Report to President-elect Kennedy, reexamining the federal regulatory commissions and recommending such reforms as strengthening the commissions' chairmen and streamlining their procedures, which the Kennedy administration adopted.

Landis failed to pay his income taxes from 1956 to 1960. After this came to light in 1963, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one month in jail. Because of illness, he spent the month in hospital facilities. Less than a year after he returned home, he suffered a heart attack and drowned in his swimming pool.


Further reading

See also


  1. ^ "James McCauley Landis". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 9 February 2023. Retrieved 2023-04-20.
  2. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 2023-04-20.
  3. ^ Henry Friendly, Greatest Judge of his Era, p. 64
Government offices Preceded byJoseph P. Kennedy Sr. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair 1935–1937 Succeeded byWilliam O. Douglas Academic offices Preceded byRoscoe Pound Dean of Harvard Law School 1937–1946 Succeeded byErwin Griswold Government offices Preceded byL. Welch Pogue Civil Aeronautics Board Chair 1946–1947 Succeeded byLaurence S. Kuter